Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January (1) Before you order online: Open Pollinated Plants, Heirlooms and Hybrids

Post updated in September 2014: now you can put yourself on a map and if all of us do it, soon find other seed savers !

PART 1/2

 Which seeds to order, grow and save - which to avoid for seed saving. 
(In basic terms)

Oh, those seemingly endless varieties - it is still seed ordering time !
As you plan to save seeds from the plants you will grow:
choose only seeds which are marked "OP".
No matter if you want to save money, take control over your food quality, be part of a peaceful revolution or all of them: only seeds from "open pollinated" plants will grow true-to-type and thus work for seed saving.

If you can, take some time to explore and select seldom tasty varieties, and grow them to be part of maintaining them:


The third description you often find in seed catalogs or on seed packets, is "hybrid" - avoid them for a start.

Hybrids are crossings between two not closely related parent varieties and often very prolific plants.
Nature can produce hybrids too, when bees cross your broccoli with your cauliflower, for example. 

But for seed saving, hybrids are not suited, as the following generation grown from saved seeds from these plants will not carry the same, if any harvest at all.

This is why saving pure seeds requires protection from cross-pollination for many plants once they start to flower, which is explained on the "April" calendar sheet. This again is the reason why many people hesitated to go deeper with seed saving - but with the calendar you will realise that all methods are simple and can be realized from cheap materials;  And once you got infected by the magic of re-connecting and co-creating toward abundance, you will see that it is big fun.

You will even learn to cross plants and create your own hybrids, but if you want to choose plants to save from, and don't plan to experiment for a start, skip hybrid plants if you order seeds.


Enjoy to explore trusted sellers online , in search of special plants you want to grow, dreaming up your garden over the year.

If you want, get inspired by "Ark of Taste " and the slow food movements' list of especially tasty threatened culinary varieties, all of them heirlooms - old varieties which have been around since more than 50 years. Regional varieties, but the movement is international.


#together: Inspire friends to grow special varieties

Humanity is at the start of becoming aware of the importance of seed saving, so it is likely that there is no seed bank or seed library next to you yet. You will learn in March, that several species require a quite large plant population to save from, which can easily be done if you convince some friends to plant the same variety and save from their best plants, too.

When I created the calendar I deeply desired a platform that would allow to find everyone who grows and saves from the same variety and facilitate exchange. It would make the movement increasingly aware of its size on a global level, and once it has grown ( become well-known) allow us to find others on a local level too. 

When I update this post (September 2014), Growstuff already provides you with embedded maps, to see on a global scale who else is growing and saving form the same species. This is an important development for the seed saving movement, especially as they go open source. But you can not search for specific varieties yet. We should absolutely share what we grow and save from there though, to empower the developments and find others who grow close to us soon ! 

Yet, I still recommend to convince your gardening friends to organise your seed saving, mixing and sharing of specific varieties through Facebook groups, or similar simple social tools, but I will be happy to update the calendar once our desired platform is ready for convenience !

Tell your friends, who are or might be interested in growing their own food, medicine - or other flora - about your most recent "gems": the more of you plant a variety, the better you can start local seed saving.   

#share & inspire each other:  Create (shared) visual online bookmark lists 
for your plant wishes and choices  

Once your friends are interested, a visual bookmarking tool becomes kind of necessary... pinterest is indeed a handy tool: curious gardening friends instantly love it because they  can find a lot of pre-selected content for related topics.
And you can create shared folders there.

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